Book Covers: A Worthy Judge of Character?

Random House compiled a list of "The 20 Most Iconic Book Covers Ever" last week.  I was thrilled.  I clicked through on by one, so excited to see what their choices would be.  Most of them were classics, cover art I've seen time and time again, but some of them were covers that have long since been redesigned, or replaced with a photo from their subsequent movie (am I the only one that hates when they do that?)  


Book covers and the images that grace them are a big deal.  With strong, poignant art, how can you not judge a book by its cover?


I'll never forget an afternoon spent in my local Borders (R.I.P.) during high school.  My best friend and I were on the hunt for a novel suitable for a joint English class project.  The objective was clear: we were to find a book we would simultaneously read, and relate our feeling sand reactions through corresponding journal entries.  Having just finished All the Pretty Horses and Heart of Darkness, we wanted something tailored to our 17-year-old-extremely-feminine-teetering-on-adulthood taste.  I should mention, we were shamelessly judging these books by their covers. 


Bel Canto looked a little dull.  The Road too foreboding.  Then we saw American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfield. 


That cover was all that mattered.  We could have cared less about the author's name or the size of the book or the price.  They were overshadowed by our immediate reaction to the cover.  It featured a women sitting in a white gown, lush and beaded and enveloping, with a gloved hand wearing a wedding ring delicately clasped in her lap.  The cover cuts off below her head, forcing you to focus on that hand and its wedding ring.  The title is displayed along the top, simple and clean and classic.  We bought that book entirely based off the cover.  The project turned out well and in retrospect, our journal entries back and forth are priceless caricatures of our 17-year-old selves.  I love that book, even though there were parts I didn't necessarily love and many that I've since forgotten. 


The cover drew us in and forever branded that book my mind.  The cover set the tone.  It was the trailer to the book, the thing I knew about before I knew anything else.  Now, years later, it's how I've categorized that story and the lessons I learned therein. 


Cover art really is art, made especially exciting by the fact there's an entire story for you waiting behind it. 


What books have you bought for the cover?


-Maddy
BYU Bookstore Marketing

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